PHILADELPHIA - A pair of Tigers invade The Palestra this weekend as Penn volleyball plays host to Princeton at 5 p.m. on Saturday and Towson at 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Quakers (5-5) look to get off to a fast start in Ivy League play against Princeton after a thrilling five-set win over Delaware on Wednesday night.
Saturday's match with Princeton is not just the Ivy League opener. An annual tradition for the Quakers since 2008, Penn will be wearing pink on Saturday in support of the Side-Out Foundation and its Dig Pink campaign. In the ongoing fight against breast cancer, the Penn volleyball team is trying to raise $5,000 in 2012. As a whole, the Side-Out Foundation has raised more than $250,000 with a goal of $1.5 million. The Quakers will be wearing special pink warm-ups and uniforms at the game, and you can enter on-site for a chance to take home one of the Under Armour warm-up shirts, personalized with Penn's Split "P" logo on the back.
If you would like to help the Penn volleyball team reach its donation goal, please click here.
Last Time Out
Where to begin? Trailing 2-0 in the match, Penn rallied for an amazing 3-2 win (22-25, 23-25, 25-21, 26-24, 15-13) at Delaware on Wednesday. Dani Shepherd broke her own school record for digs in a single match with 46, while as a team the Quakers accumulated 141 digs, second in school history behind the 144 Penn had in a November 15, 1987 match with Princeton. Alex Caldwell provided her second triple-double in three matches (15 kills, 25 assists, 16 digs) while Emma White (14 kills, 28 digs) and Kristen Etterbeek (14 kills, 18 digs) chipped in with double-doubles. Amanda Pacheco was the best hitter on the night for the Red and Blue, smashing 15 kills with a .412 hitting percentage. The Quakers and Blue Hens were dead-even in team kills (76) and assists (72), but one area Penn had a clear advantage was in blocks, where they enjoyed a 14-5 cushion. Susan Stuecheli had nine blocks (two solo, seven assists) to lead the charge.
Though Princeton enters the weekend at 3-7, they've played a loaded schedule and are a threat to compete for the Ivy League title until proven otherwise. Hitting .212 as a team, the Tigers' attack is led by Lydia Rudnick (3.92 kills per set) and Kendall Peterkin (3.03), who are 1-2 in the league in that category. Ginny Willis leads the Ivy League in assists per set with 9.63, the only player ahead of Penn's Ronnie Bither. Sarah Daschbach tops the team in digs at 4.08 per set with Rudnick running second at 2.82. Princeton is currently second in the Ivies in blocks with 2.26 per set, paced by Nicole Kincade's 1.26.
Towson will have a Friday night home meeting with the same Delaware squad that Penn just squeaked past before coming to Philadelphia for Penn's final non-conference match of 2012. At 12-3, the Tigers own the top record in the CAA. With 14.55 kills per set and a .282 hitting percentage, Towson ranks in the top 20 of Division I in each category. Katy Buck leads the teams with 3.22 kills per set but a total of six players come in averaging more than two kills a set. Doing the setting is Aubrey Kirven, who started the week ranked fifth in the nation with 12.28 assists per set. Paige Sekerak tops the team in digs at 3.51 while Alysha McCreary is the top blocker on the team with 0.94 per set.
After her unmatched single-game performance on Wednesday night, Shepherd needs only 20 more digs to reach the 1,000 digs plateau for her career. Meanwhile, 15 kills from Etterbeek will give her 500 in her time wearing the Red and Blue.
A few players also surpassed some important milestones on Wednesday. With five blocks against Delaware (one solo, four assist), Pacheco landed directly on 200 for her career. Stuecheli's seven kills pushed her past 400 and gives her 405 entering this weekend. Finally, White used 28 digs to end the match with 512 in less than a season-and-a-half in a Penn uniform.
Penn led the nation in digs in the latest NCAA statistical release on Monday, and that was before the Quakers added another 141 digs to their season total. Adding in Wednesday night's match, Penn jumped from 22.52 to 23.26 digs per set. No other Division I team in the country can boast an average of even 19 digs per set.
Those who can't make it to The Palestra on Saturday are in luck. Penn Sports Network is offering a free one-day trial for the match against Princeton. Follow this link and select the "Free Trial" option to watch the Quakers go for victory in their Ivy League opener. As always, live stats will be available for both matches this weekend by clicking here.